Walker Hayes is hard at work on new music, after releasing his successful freshman Boom in 2017. The Alabama native is being just as personal on his next set of tunes as he was on Boom, although he did add a little more star power to his sophomore project, including a song he wrote with his former tour boss, Kelsea Ballerini.
"There's a song called 'Acceptance Speech,' and it's kind of about not getting enough applause maybe, but still accepting yourself for who you are, and loving yourself," Hayes told PopCulture.com. "My daughter Lila actually sang the chorus, and I wrote it with Kelsea Ballerini."
Hayes also touched on other tough subjects on his next project, including his ongoing struggle with alcoholism. Hayes has been sober for several years, but admits it is something he still battles, which is why he is so ready to talk about it.
"And then also a song called 'Chapel,'" said Hayes. "It's about my son, who is completely opposite of me, yet I love him so much, and while sometimes, I tend to wanna try to live vicariously through my kids, I can't through him. He's so different, and I love him for that. And then a song called 'Wish I Could Drink" which is, I'm sober four years this October, but it's not easy, It's a day-to-day thing, and I have my moments, and that's what this song is about, is a tough night I had in a hotel room.
"And then a song called 'Dad's Sailboat' about my dad getting older, and me hating that," he continued. "Just wishing I could keep him at that age, when he was strongest, and kind of having to watch your hero get older. Just a lot of real honest feelings in this music. That's what I love to do. That's my specialty, is writing about the things that maybe we all think, but don't really say a lot, or talk about, and getting that emotion out."
Hayes will put some of his new music out on his third 8Track, coming out on Dec. 6.
"There's a lot of personal songs on this," teased Hayes. "That's what the 8Tracks are. They're basically me just baring my soul, keeping it real for the fans, and I record all the music basically in my bedroom now. The shack used to be in Nashville, but since I'm on the road so much, I just brought all my gear to the house, and I do it there, and I'm so pumped about this music coming out."
Hayes has shared other personal stories, including the tragic loss of his daughter, Oakleigh, shortly after her birth. For Hayes, it's the only way he knows to develop a closer relationship with his fans, which is what he wants the most.
"I feel like that is what's gonna help a fan the most," said the 39-year-old. "I mean, I could take a bumper sticker that I think is funny, and make a song around it, and it would be fun and clever, but I need purpose in this job. Fame is not gonna fill me up, money is not gonna fill me up, but what will fill me up is when a fan's brave enough to come up and say, 'Hey, that song called 'Beer in the Fridge', that really helped me.'
"Or, ''You Broke Up With Me,' I was going through a break-up when you released that song, and it helped me out.,'" he continued. "So to me, that's what it's all about. That's worth chasing, and so I'm gonna keep it honest, always."
Photo Credit: Getty / Erika Goldring